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Montreat Adds Oxford United Academy Star

Photo Courtesy of Montreat College

Montreat College men’s soccer Head Coach David Knapp announced on Wednesday the signing of Oxford United Academy captain Ryan Buick (Banbury, England) for the 2013 season.

‘‘Looking forward with anticipation and excitement to be joining the Montreat College men’s soccer team next season,” said Buick. “Sharing with them my enthusiasm, skills and talent to have a successful season.”

The versatile 5-foot-8 midfielder/defender brings that enthusiasm to Gaither Circle following a successful career where he was named Oxford United Academy’s and Banbury United’s captain in his final seasons.

Throughout his two year career the Banbury, England, native recorded seven career goals and 15 career assists as a center back for Oxford. Buick recorded career-highs in goals (4) and assists (10) as he led the Yellows to 12 wins in his final season.

Buick was named Banbury United’s Player’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year as he led The Puritans to a County Cup Final, League Cup, and a League Runner-up finish in his two seasons at Station Approach.

“Ryan brings a lot of experience in a number of positions that will bring great depth to our squad,” Knapp declared. “His leadership along with his technical skills and tactical awareness will allow him to compete right away.”

Montreat adds Buick to a squad that won the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and advanced to their first NAIA National Tournament in 2011 and is the midst of rebuilding a Cavalier program that has featured four (4) Appalachian Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year (Shaka Bangura, ’05, Howard Fisher, ’06, Troy Watson, ’07, Sami Bin, ’08), two (2) AAC Players of the Year (Shaka Bangura, ’07, Shaka Bangura, ’08), one (1) AAC Golden Boot (Shaka Bangura, ’09), and one (1) NAIA All-American (Shaka Bangura, ’09).

Coach Knapp is looking to replace his seven graduating seniors from the 2012 squad, that include Third Team All-AAC forward Craig Wilson (Carenege, Trinidad) and Sandy Zensen Champions of Character Award winner, midfielder, David Friedrichs (Midlothian, VA).

Akron Reloads with Strong Signings

Many critics worried about the direction of the Akron men’s soccer program after the departure of Caleb Porter to MLS.  If this signing class is any indication, there is absolutely no reason to worry.  New head coach (and Porter’s former top assistant) Jared Embick is picking up where Porter left off.  The future of Akron men’s soccer is very bright.  As they always say “Akron doesn’t rebuild; they just reload.”

That was certainly the case here as Embick officially announced the 10 members of the Zips’ 2013 signing class Monday.

In all, the Zips will welcome nine incoming freshmen and a college transfer. Furthermore, the group includes a member of the U.S. Under-18 national team player pool, two high school All-Americans and three internationals. We are talking about players associated with the likes of npower Championship side Blackpool, EPL giant Chelsea, legendary Brazilian club Corinthians, and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. Very impressive indeed.

And sources tell us the 2014 class is going to be even better.  That’s not a surprise as early commit Bryce Cregan was coveted by many top programs across the country.  But he chose Akron and did it early.

Midfielder Clint Caso (Kinnelson, N.J./St. Benedict Preparatory School/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy/New Hampshire), defender Louis Cross (Lancashire, England/Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School/Blackpool FC Academy), midfielder Robby Dambrot (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary HS/Internationals SC), goalkeeper Jonny DeMoya (Olney, Md./Sherwood HS/Baltimore Bays Academy), defender Riley Grant (Copley, Ohio/Copley-Fairlawn HS/Internationals SC), defender Brett Gravatt (Dunn Loring, Va./IMG Academy [Fla.]), midfielder Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J./Paramus Catholic/ N.Y. Red Bulls Academy), midfielder Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio/St. Ignatius HS/Internationals SC), striker Ismail Seremba (London, England/Chelsea Academy) and midfielder Victor Souto (Sao Paolo, Brazil/Sport Club Corinthians Paulista) will continue their careers with the Zips this fall.

Souto has gotten a headstart on his fellow recruits, enrolling at Akron in January. He looked sharp in spring scrimmages and looks to be a player that can contribute immediately.

“We feel we have put together a strong class that enhances the quality and depth of our team,” Embick said. “It is important that our players have the ability to play the Akron way and we feel we have done a great job of identifying talented players who will adapt quickly to our system. All these players are technically gifted and have a high soccer IQ and we are confident they will help continue the success and tradition of Akron soccer.”

Akron swept the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament titles for the fifth time in six years in 2012 and claimed the nation’s No. 1-ranking in the final poll of the regular season before advancing to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year. UA will return nine letterwinners and five starters this fall, including leading goal scorer Reinaldo Brenes and center back Bryan Gallego.

The success of the program is both a blessing and a curse. The top recruits want to play there, but they often leave early to pursue a pro career. Often times quality players choose to transfer as was the case this spring as four players left the program in search of more playing time.

This offseason was much of the same as Dillon Serna, Wil Trapp, and DeAndre Yedlin left for the riches of MLS.  Chad Barson and Scott Caldwell signed Homegrown Player contracts while David Meves went in the MLS Supplemental Draft. Even Tommy Schmitt, who started his senior season as a top pro prospect, continues to ply his trade as one of the top strikers in the NPSL.

Clint Caso, MF, Kinnelon, N.J. (St. Benedict Preparatory School/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy/New Hampshire)
New York Red Bulls Academy … helped the Red Bulls win the USYSA New Jersey U-15 State Championship in 2008 and qualified for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week … was a two-time, first team all-state honoree at St. Benedict Preparatory School … led St. Benedict’s Prep to three straight New Jersey State Prep Championships (2008-2010) … appeared in eight matches, making six starts, at the University of New Hampshire as a freshman … recorded an assist and nine shots on goal for the Wildcats, who advanced to the championship match of the America East Tournament.

Louis Cross, D, Lancashire, England (Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School/Blackpool FC Academy)
Developed in Blackpool FC Academy since he was eight years old … Blackpool FC youth team captain … captained his country on a tour of Scandinavia and was named England’s U-16 Independent Soccer Player of the Year … also named League Football Education’s Apprentice of the Month for February of 2013.

Robby Dambrot, MF/D, Akron, Ohio (St. Vincent-St. Mary HS/Internationals SC)
Three-time all-district honoree … team MVP … led St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to the regional championship in 2007 and a runner-up finish in 2008 … totaled 15 goals and 26 assists in three years for the Irish … played club soccer for Internationals SC of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy during his senior year … won seven consecutive state cup championships from 2006-2012 … rated a three-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer … also earned a varsity letter in basketball … son of current Zips men’s basketball head coach Keith Dambrot.

Jonny DeMoya, GK, Olney, Md. (Sherwood HS/Baltimore Bays Academy)
Played club soccer for the Baltimore Bays of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … 2011 All-Gazette (Md.) honoree … rated a three-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer.

Riley Grant, D, Copley, Ohio (Copley-Fairlawn HS/Internationals SC)
Rated 12th-best prospect in the Great Lakes Region and a four-star recruit, according to Top Drawer Soccer … led Copley-Fairlawn High School to district and regional championships, and the state semifinals as a junior … scored 16 goals, including seven game-winners, while tallying eight assists in that breakout season, earning All-Ohio Second Team honors … played club soccer for the Internationals SC of the US Soccer Development Academy as a senior … played on three Ohio Youth Soccer Association North State Cup Champion teams (2010, 2011, 2012) … also played club soccer with Everest SC Black (2009-12) and Ohio Select Futbol Club (2005-09).

Brett Gravatt, D, Dunn Loring, Va. (IMG Academy [Fla.])
Product of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. … scored 10 goals in his first two seasons … spent time training in Barcelona and Holland … invited to the Dallas Cup three times … three-star recruit, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

Adam Najem, MF, Clifton, N.J. (Paramus Catholic HS/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy)
No. 1-ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey and No. 7 midfielder in the country, according to Top Drawer Soccer … rated a five-star recruit by TDS … member of the U.S. Under-18 National Team player pool … NSCAA Boys Youth All-American … member of the New York Red Bulls Academy of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … led his Under-16 Academy team to the national title in 2012 with the game-winning assist … ranked No. 35 on ESPNHS’s Top 150 Class of 2013.

Tyler Sanda, MF, North Royalton, Ohio (St. Ignatius HS/Internationals SC)
NSCAA High School All-American … rated 13th-best prospect in the Great Lakes Region and a four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer … Ohio’s co-Player of the Year in Division I and a first-team all-state honoree … named Mr. Soccer for 2012 by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association … first-team All-Greater Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Player of the Year … finished his high school career with 29 goals, including seven game-winners, and 19 assists … led the powerhouse Wildcats program, which won the national championship in 2010, to a collective record of 82-3-3 … played club soccer for the Internationals SC of the US Soccer Development Academy.

Ismail Seremba, F, London, England (Chelsea Academy)
Ugandan descent, London-born … with the Chelsea Academy since the Under-13′s… debuted in the Chelsea Under 18-team during the 2010-11 season, scoring two goals in seven appearances … made 24 appearances, including 11 starts, the following season and found the back of the net five times … also made three appearances in reserve matches.

Victor Souto, MF, Sao Paolo, Brazil (Sport Club Corinthians Paulista)
Developed in Corinthians prestigious youth academy for 10 years … captain of Corinthians Youth National Championship squad in 2009.

ISN’s University of Akron men’s soccer coverage is proudly presented by Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®. Cruise? All-Inclusive? Vegas? Call Bob Hasinski at 440-724-3513 for a great deal on a vacation of a lifetime! Bob can also be reached at [email protected]. You won’t be sorry if you book your next vacation with Bob Hasinski and Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®.

ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio – April 2013

Brandon Ponchak is always up for a challenge. He has gained a reputation as the go-to coach in non-traditional markets. We are talking about places where soccer is still gaining ground, in markets without professional teams, and in places where people say soccer can’t grow. You might as well call him “The Johnny Appleseed of Soccer” for all the work he has done to push the beautiful game forward.

“I really enjoy going to non-traditional markets because there are always hungry minds and desire for getting better,” Ponchak stated. “Sometimes the biggest struggle is trying to implement something new and different with the area soccer development because many people don’t like change. It is easier to continue what has always been done, but it’s important for the leadership to know that development should be the number one aspect.”

Photo Credit: Joey Craven

This journey has take him from different parts of Ohio to the Dakotas, and now to Kansas. Ponchak recently left his position with NPSL side Zanesville Athletic to become the head men’s soccer coach at NAIA Sterling College.

Ponchak has gotten it done at every level. He served as an assistant at Dakota Wesleyan University and Bluffton University.

His time at Dakota Wesleyan was particularly memorable for Ponchak. He worked with both the men’s and women’s sides with the latter having incredible success. The women’s team went 21 games unbeaten, winning their conference in the reglar season before winning the conference tournament. They even made a national tournament appearance in what Ponchak described as “a fun season.”

But who actually goes to the Dakotas for soccer? Ponchak did and it changed his perspective on the beautiful game.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that if you are involved in soccer there, you know every soccer person and player.”

Why you might ask? Because roughly 30 high schools in South Dakota and less than 20 high schools in North Dakota actually offer soccer. South Dakota was the last state high school association to sanction high school soccer.

Kansas is clearly a bigger market, one with an ever popular MLS franchise and a beautiful new stadium. But soccer across the state is overall still a work in progress, something Ponchak knows all about.

“There are positive aspects to being in non-traditional soccer markets, and the biggest one for me is the impact on kids’ lives.”

Ponchak even spent time at the middle and high school level at Lexington Christian Academy (KY) and with youth clubs like Dakota Blue SC (Mitchell, SD) and Bluegrass SC (Versailles, KY).

Photo Credit: Joey Craven

He also was on the staff of the USL PRO Charlotte Eagles as a camp coach and director. This was in addition to his work with the Dayton Dutch Lions, where he evaluated players at tryouts and worked on broadcasts.

It is easy to say that he has seen the game from many different perspectives in many different places.

His own experiences as a player growing up in Southern Ohio were paramount to his development into an exemplary coach.

“Southern Ohio soccer is ripe with talent, but sometimes it may not be the prettiest. The players always work hard though. That’s the culture there. It is more rural and blue-collar, so the players grow up hard working in everything they do.”

Ponchak had success of his own as a player. He remembers several events quite fondly: helping his high school team get its first-ever shutout while recording 33 saves, traveling to Sweden to play in the Gothia Cup, and helping his college get their first-ever conference tournament championship.

But who influenced him and ultimately inspired him to build a career in the game he loves? Ponchak credits his father for building a mentality and work ethic that has driven him as both a player and coach.

A quote from Bill Shankly rang true for Ponchak: “Coaches do not make great players; mothers and fathers make great players.”

Former teammates and players have also been a driving force for Ponchak.

He spoke fondly of former teammate Seth Dille, who was born with cerebral palsy.

“He has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Nothing negatively affects him and he doesn’t let anything hold him back. He is in the U.S. National Paralympic Soccer Team pool. Everyone needs to be around Seth; he’ll put a smile on everyone’s faces.”

Former DWU player Jason “Jay” Roddy is another source of inspiration.

“Jay had a stroke in his 3rd day with the team. He was in incredible shape and then the tragedy happened. The positive thing is Jay lived and has made a near-full recovery. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.”

And not a day goes by where Ponchak doesn’t have an impact on the game we all love. Inspiring players, providing a quality training environment, sharing passion, and developing players on and off the field are all parts of his game.

Korrio understands it is your passion for coaching kids that drives you. We also know that the less time you spend dealing with administrative, communication and automation hassles, and the more time you spend on the field, the happier you’ll be. And because you play a crucial role in our children’s lives, we want you spending as much time as possible coaching our kids. Korrio offers a modern approach to coaching by allowing new ways to communicate and develop a community on and off the field. Congratulations to the ISN Star of Coaching this month.

Late Equalizer Gives Akron Draw with Maryland

The University of Akron men’s soccer team wrapped up its spring exhibition schedule on a strong note, playing 2012 NCAA semifinalist Maryland to a 1-1 draw at Ludwig Field Saturday.

The Zips, who were playing without starters Reinaldo Brenes and Robbie Derschang due to injuries, rallied from a 1-0 deficit when Zac Portillos took a pass from Aodhan Quinn and buried the equalizer late in the match.

“We came here to win so we’re not satisfied with the draw,” said UA head coach Jared Embick. “That being said, we had an outstanding effort from our players. In particular, some of our young players grew a lot today and performed well against an elite team. I am excited for the potential of our team next fall.”

UA lost its third starter to injury in the 41st minute when Bryan Gallego came off after a collision. The Terrapins took advantage, drawing first blood just minutes later when Jereme Raley finished a cross from Mikey Ambrose.

Saturday’s match capped off another strong spring season for UA. In all, the Zips posted a record of 3-1-1 in five exhibitions and outscored the opposition 7-2 despite a rash of injuries and new personnel. Moreover, in its four contests against NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago, the Zips went 3-0-1.

ISN’s University of Akron men’s soccer coverage is proudly presented by Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®. Cruise? All-Inclusive? Vegas? Call Bob Hasinski at 440-724-3513 for a great deal on a vacation of a lifetime! Bob can also be reached at [email protected]. You won’t be sorry if you book your next vacation with Bob Hasinski and Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®.

Akron Struggle with Butler

The University of Akron men’s soccer team fell behind early and couldn’t catch up in a 1-0 spring exhibition defeat at Butler Sunday afternoon.

Experimenting with a new shape and playing without a number of key players, the Zips allowed a counterattack goal in the first minute of the match. UA found its stride shortly thereafter and had the ball for much of the contest – putting together a number of quality moments – but couldn’t find the equalizer.

“We wanted to look at a new formation and the spring is the best time to do that,” said UA head coach Jared Embick. “That being said, we are disappointed with the result today. The early goal was the result of slow play. Once we settled in, we performed well but just couldn’t find that breakthrough goal.”

The Zips played the match without starters Bryan Gallego and Robbie Derschang as a result of injuries. Eric Stevenson, who missed last week’s 2-0 win versus Xavier, was limited to 45 minutes Sunday.

The goal was the first allowed by Akron through the first four exhibition matches this spring.

UA, which announced its fall schedule last Thursday, will play its final spring match next Saturday at NCAA College Cup participant Maryland. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.

ISN’s University of Akron men’s soccer coverage is proudly presented by Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®. Cruise? All-Inclusive? Vegas? Call Bob Hasinski at 440-724-3513 for a great deal on a vacation of a lifetime! Bob can also be reached at [email protected]. You won’t be sorry if you book your next vacation with Bob Hasinski and Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®.